Mark 7:24-37 (NRSV)
24 From there he set out and went away to the region of Tyre. He entered a house and did not want anyone to know he was there. Yet he could not escape notice, 25 but a woman whose little daughter had an unclean spirit immediately heard about him, and she came and bowed down at his feet. 26 Now the woman was a Gentile, of Syrophoenician origin. She begged him to cast the demon out of her daughter. 27 He said to her, "Let the children be fed first, for it is not fair to take the children's food and throw it to the dogs." 28 But she answered him, "Sir, even the dogs under the table eat the children's crumbs." 29 Then he said to her, "For saying that, you may go-the demon has left your daughter." 30 So she went home, found the child lying on the bed, and the demon gone. 31 Then he returned from the region of Tyre, and went by way of Sidon towards the Sea of Galilee, in the region of the Decapolis. 32 They brought to him a deaf man who had an impediment in his speech; and they begged him to lay his hand on him. 33 He took him aside in private, away from the crowd, and put his fingers into his ears, and he spat and touched his tongue. 34 Then looking up to heaven, he sighed and said to him, "Ephphatha," that is, "Be opened." 35 And immediately his ears were opened, his tongue was released, and he spoke plainly. 36 Then Jesus ordered them to tell no one; but the more he ordered them, the more zealously they proclaimed it. 37 They were astounded beyond measure, saying, "He has done everything well; he even makes the deaf to hear and the mute to speak."
I'm not sure where I found the following quote but I think it is worth sharing:
Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; there is nothing as common as unsuccessful people with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence.
The Syrophoenician was a pagan, a foreigner and a persecutor of the Jewish people in the disciple's eyes. She was outside the boundaries of Jesus' mission and ministry. Jesus seemed to be cold and dismissive in His response to her and, yet, she was persistent. She was the conversational equivalent of Jacob who would not stop until he had wrested a blessing from his winged assailant. She was tenacious as Abraham bargaining with God for the lives of people in Sodom and Gomorrah. Like her predecessors, the woman was successful in getting what she wanted from Jesus. Jesus gave in and healed her daughter.
In reading this story, I've decided that trying to discover the mind or intention of Jesus is probably not the best approach. Maybe I should focus on the woman. Maybe this is a story of helplessness? Could it be a story of powerlessness where women of that day had no place in society? Is it about the struggle of having a mentally ill daughter?
When you ask these questions, you start to understand helplessness, to think you are outside of God's love. It gives you a sense of what it is like to think that no one will help, that no one cares. The woman is desperate. Ultimately, she is also persistent and in her tenacity shows a remarkable faith.
Maybe there is a message. Maybe we are like the woman. Maybe we feel helpless, powerless, and in need. Maybe we need what Jesus has. The question is are we willing to pursue Jesus with the same persistence as the Syrophoenician woman? Think about it.